23 April 2013
McSally has a background in “targeting procedures,” drones and “national security expertise.” She also served as Chief of Current Operations at the US Africa Command from July 2007-April 2010. In this position, she “led the planning and execution oversight for targeting operations in Africa.” She was a leader at an Air Operations Center in Saudi Arabia when the US “first used an MQ-1 Predator for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) in Iraq and when it was first employed to conduct a strike with a Hellfire missile in Afghanistan after 9/11.”
She also apparently believes that those who use the word “drone” instead of the more sanitized “remotely piloted aircraft” are fueling an al Qaeda “information operation”—which is commonly known as a phrase for propaganda and Sen. Lindsey Graham requested she be added to the panel of witnesses so she could share this view.
McSally opened her remarks before the Senate subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights and human rights with the following:
A section of her witness statement submitted for the record described what she called “asymmetric advantage and enemy information operations.” She cited retired Air Force Lieutenant General David Deptula, who she considers to be “a brilliant national security and military strategist.” He was also “the first general to oversee ISR in the USAF, including RPA/UAV/UAS development.” (One may substitute drones for either or all of those acronyms.)
McSally cited this section, which Deptula wrote in an article for AOL News:
Any of the members of the Senate at the subcommittee hearing could have asked if she saw the hearing as feeding into Al Qaeda’s agenda because it was discussing criticisms of drones and even giving a platform to a Yemeni named Farea al-Muslimi, who is from a village that had been struck by a US drone attack that took place days ago. One wonders what she might have said.
It certainly does not seem like McSally differentiates between “falsehoods” put out by al Qaeda and “falsehoods” put out by human rights organizations. She probably would suggest that the “falsehoods” human rights organizations rely upon in their work on drones often come from al Qaeda propaganda.
Of course, it is hard not to hand Al Qaeda and its affiliates propaganda victories when strikes hit villages, destroy structures and blow the human bodies of people, whom the village did not know were targets of the US “war on terrorism,” to unrecognizable smithereens.
Al-Muslimi, in his submitted witness statement, asserted, “Every time an innocent civilian is killed or maimed by a U.S. drone strike or another targeted killing, it is felt by Yemenis across the country. These strikes often cause animosity towards the United States and create a backlash that undermines the national security goals of the United States.” But, it is not clear that McSally thinks there are enough civilian casualties to consider the backlash worth addressing and that is because, to her, Al Qaeda and its affiliates are manipulating people into believing that something malevolent is going on with the US “targeted killing” program.
McSally argues in defense of drones (like other defenders and advocates) that they are the most precise weapon ever. That may be true, but it does not change the fact that individuals being targeted and killed are individuals, who members of villages or cities can be people they never thought were doing anything wrong or criminal. They have no notice and cannot stay clear of those targeted and that inevitably means that there are people who die, whom the US simply writes off as “associates” of that target thus excusing their deaths.
In conclusion, to hear her or anyone like her in the military talk
about “targeted killings” with “remotely piloted aircrafts” is to be
subjected to a sterile explanation of the procedures followed daily. She
is very capable of giving a clinical description of the processes for
carrying out state-sanctioned assassinations. It is clear in her mind if
all is done methodically nothing could go wrong. And, the fact that she
fixates on that one word, “drone,” and chides those who use it by accusing
them of basically enabling al Qaeda—That is indicative of the
institutionally-learned callous indifference and even trained ignorance
toward the actual impacts of operations on populations where the US is
waging drone wars.